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Jeff Snider, Head of Global Investment Research for Alhambra Investments with Emil Kalinowski, who turtle waxes. Artwork lined with graphite by David Parkins. Podcast intro/outro is “Steps” by Cushy at Epidemic Sound.
27.3 US Retail Sales and Industrial Production in AUG
What do the latest figures tell us about the world’s most important consumer? Jeff Snider reviews retail sales, industrial production and asks what is it that is missing from our post 2007-08 economy that precludes robust recovery.

[Emil’s Summary] US President Harry Truman prosecuted the war to its conclusion, finishing his predecessor’s near-impossible task. Then, with bitter irony, History reversed his role as “anchor” for the Second World War into “lead” for the third. As the trilogy approached its near-miraculous end decades later, one could hear an echo of a Truman slogan – “Education is our first line of defense” – in the 1980s cartoon GI*Joe that averred, “Knowing is half the battle.” Both aphorisms are twigs coming off the “Knowledge is Power” branch. And the trunk itself? A tree of the knowledge of good and evil with roots stretching to the genesis.

More recently our physicists have been informing us of hard limits to our knowledge – uncertainty principles, incompleteness theorems – buttressing Socrates’ statement that, “The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing.” Still, bounded knowledge is a poor excuse for apathy, and in 1951 Truman signed into existence an agency whose purpose was to prepare American citizens for nuclear war. “Knowledge is not only key to power. It is the citadel of human freedom,” he said.

In this 27th episode of Making Sense, Jeff Snider reveals that Truman’s agency’s most iconic result was that of a cartoon turtle named Bert. It may sound startlingly silly to the 21st-century ear, but educating citizens to turtle up, to duck and cover at the first instance of a flash made sense at that particular time. At least, up to the point when weapons, and thus circumstances, evolved. Similarly, the Federal Reserve’s monetary policies made sense, up to the point when money, and thus circumstances evolved, which, coincidentally enough, began in Truman’s time.


00:05 The US economy stopped improving at a rapid rate in mid- to late-July
04:27 A review of US retail sales reported in August
07:04 A review of US industrial production reported in August
08:52 Why has US industrial production never recovered from 2007-09? What is the real problem?


Another Key Economic Stumble In August Pointing Back At July: https://bit.ly/3cgPVJL
No Hole Puzzle, From Autos An August Stumble: https://bit.ly/3mCWknl
Alhambra Investments Blog: https://bit.ly/2VIC2wW
RealClear Markets Essays: https://bit.ly/38tL5a7